RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The rate of food allergies among children in the U.S. has gone up 50% since the late 1990s, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Allergic reactions can range from stomach problems, to something more severe and even deadly.
One Raleigh mom was determined to create snacks that were safe for her and her kids to eat, but still tasted good.
It started out of necessity.
“You’re in the airport, you go to a convenient store, and you try to find a snack. Nine times out of 10, there’s nothing for me to eat, or I would eat those weird, preserved eggs that are in the airport convenience stores,” explained Brooke Navarro. “That was my go-to. I was like there has to be something better.”
Navarro decided she was going to create the better option.
The crisps, cookies, granola bars and snacks from “Without a Trace” are made without any traces of the top allergens, like eggs, diary, and peanuts.
“Between my mom, my daughter and me, combined we’re allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and legumes,” added Navarro.
She wanted to make sure her daughter, and other children, wouldn’t feel left out in class or at parties, like she often did while growing up.
“Thoe memories are still really, really vivid in my mind. I think people really discount the emotional impact of food allergies on kids,” said Navarro.
Everything is hand-made by her parents and a handful of workers in their facility off of Rock Quarry Road in Raleigh.
“Without a Trace” launched in 2020 at the height of the pandemic.
Navarro told CBS17 business really took off when kids returned to school, camp, activities and had playdates again.
“We wanted them to have snacks that were colorful and tasty and that everyone wanted to eat, so they wouldn’t feel so alone and left out,” she explained.
According to the CDC, one in every 13 kids has a food allergy.
That’s about two children in every classroom who struggle during snack time.
The allergy rates are rising, and it can be dangerous.
“People don’t understand really how serious it is from a physical standpoint it is,” said Navarro. “It’s not just like ‘oh, I don’t like it or it gives me a stomach ache’…its something that can actually kill you.”
Navarro had a close call years ago, while dating her now-husband.
“We were out to eat, and I had an anaphylactic reaction and the next thing you know I’m in the ambulance on the way to the hospital,” she said.
She wants to raise awareness that food allergies shouldn’t be something people take lightly.
“You could go from being totally fine, to a minute later having your throat close up,” added Navarro.
She told CBS17 that if people have parties or gatherings, it’s best to assume someone there will have a food allergy.
She said it can be really isolating and recommends asking guests ahead of time how they can be accommodated to include them in any food-related festivities.